Mexico vs Japan: Olympic Men's Football Semifinal Preview
A spot in the Gold medal final looms over the first semifinal match of the 2012 London Olympic football tournament as Mexico and Japan face off at Wembley Stadium on Tuesday August, 7th.
Mexico needed extra time to finish off a strong Senegalese team that had leveled in the last half hour of play. Goals from Moussa Konate and Ibrahima Balde within seven minutes of one another were enough to send the match through regulation.
However, Mexico's golden boy, Giovani Dos Santos delivered for his country once again opening the scoring in extra time, before Hector Herrera sealed a 4-2 victory for the Mexicans with ten minutes remaining.
Japan and Egypt was a tough tie to call, with both sides taking interesting routes to the quarterfinals. Japan had gone through with seven points from Group D by scoring only two goals, while Egypt had slotted home six goals and only managed to collect four points in Group C.
It was unknown who would have the upper hand, but Japan took control early with a 14th minute goal from Kensuke Nagai before he was substituted six minutes later. However, the Japanese did not stop there as their impressive defensive display limited the Egyptians to only one shot on goal all night.
Despite it all the North African nation still held on until two Japanese goals in the final twelve minutes put the match beyond reach.
Both sides will go into the match full of confidence and determination. Japan's best finish came in the 1968 games where they earned a Bronze medal. For Mexico, Tuesday's semifinal will be a whole new experience having never made it past the quarterfinals in their Olympic history.
The pair will know all about one another having met only three week ago in an Olympic warm-up match; the Mexicans coming out 2-1 victors at Nottingham Forest's City Ground.
Mexico will feel that they can repeat that success, but will have to rely heavily on the creativity of Dos Santos, Herrera and Marco Fabian.
Fabian has scored 14 goals in 17 appearances for the U23 national team and will be the primary goal threat to watch alongside Dos Santos, who has yet to replicate his outstanding international form at club level.
Japan likewise have much to be happy about as they finally found their scoring boots against Egypt. However, it will be a tough ask to defeat the Central American nation and Japan will be hoping that Borussia Monchengladbach striker Yuki Otsu is on top form.
The two nations are sure to play great passing football, but Mexico's better creative ability in midfield should give them the edge in an intriguing contest.
Expect a great battle for possession with both defenses looking to force long shots rather than let the other side pass their way into the box.
Prediction: A hard fought contest, but should finish 2-1 in favor of Mexico.
Key Players: Giovani Dos Santo (Mexico) Yuki Otsu (Japan)
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